How do you measure the labor of a rigorous schedule of class, conditioning, practices and meets on the weekend? If you ask Central Missouri’s throws team, a group deep with talent and a knack for breaking national records, their answer might be a simple one. Lately, they’ve used steel tape.
A successful indoor season and big marks during outdoor have made the atmosphere exciting around for throws crew, and brought them closer in both team and family dynamics.
Central Missouri meet officials and referees used steel tape to measure junior Heavin Warner’s Division II record throw at the Mule Relays last weekend. Warner, reigning national champion in the hammer throw, threw 220-7 (67.24 meters) to set the D-II record and post the third-highest mark in the hammer across all divisions this year.
Warner said she felt a big throw was coming, but was surprised to reach 67 meters. Other reactions were less subtle.
“We know it’s a good throw, because, like, you know (throws coach Tucker Woolsey) is screaming,” Warner said. “When Tucker’s screaming we know it’s a good throw. And then when they say it, (sophomore Jace Kaleikau) is jumping and Tucker’s about to break the fence.”
Along with hammer throw, Warner leads the nation in discus with a mark of 174-3 (53.12 meters) and is sixth in shot put. She, along with junior teammate Caniggia Raynor, earned MIAA field athlete of the week honors, announced Monday.
Raynor set a national record for his native country Jamaica at the Pittsburg State Open on March 28 with a hammer throw of 207-1 (63.12 meters). He added to the national record at the Mule Relays with a throw of 215-1 (65.57 meters). The throw is currently fourth in the nation.
“Oh yeah it was something for me definitely to put Jamaica on the map for hammer throw,” Raynor said. “It’s always a great feeling representing your country at that level where you can put your name next to a national record.”
In his first year at UCM after transferring from Johnson County Community College, Raynor has also bolstered the team in discus. He currently holds the second highest Division II mark in the event, throwing 181-9 (55.39 meters) at the Mule Relays.
Also eyeing a spot at nationals is sophomore Jacob Mahin, who threw 55-6 1/2 in shot put at the Pittsburg State Open and sits at No. 17 on the D-II qualifying list. He said friendly, internal competition helped the team.
In previous seasons, the UCM throwers have hosted a Big Beefer competition, a mock meet for all members to throw in each event. Mahin said Warner usually wins.
“Between Heavin and Caniggia, they kind of compete against each other,” Mahin said. “Especially in hammer, they try to push each other as well. I think Caniggia could have gotten her this year. We compete against each other but we’re all good friends here.”
In many ways, the team is their own isolated department of Central Missouri track and field. Tuesday, the team took to the dry grass and gravel of their thrower’s field with the quiet regularity of cubicle-bound employees. That kind of intimacy has fostered a family-like atmosphere in the thrower’s circle.
Raynor said it took just three weeks before he felt Central Missouri was the perfect fit for him, and Warner speaks with excitement on the prospects in the program, Jace Kaleikau, junior Haley Heuer and freshman John Berry.
She, along with senior Brooke Swearingin, coordinates the women’s pre-meet movie nights.
“(It’s) got to be like, Disney movies, or ‘Pitch Perfect,’” Warner said. “We’re trying to start a Harry Potter marathon, but, we’ve got one in and that’s it.”
Swearingin, an All-American in discus, spent the indoor season recovering from back injury and has been a source of encouragement for the team. She is set to compete in her first meet of the 2014-15 season this weekend at the Baker Open in Baldwin City, Kan.
“She’s (Swearingin) definitely been a real inspiration to the throwers,” Mahin said of his teammate. “She’s had a really rough time with her injuries. She’s definitely trying to keep pushing and keeping us motivated as well.”
In such an individual sport, it’s unsurprising that field athletes look outward for sources of inspiration. Be it God, their country or their teammates, the team is playing for something bigger. Nothing that steel tape measures will appease these individuals.
“Nobody’s ever satisfied,” Warner said. “We try to be humble. God is first. God is number one. … God is good. We are his vessels.”
BANNER PHOTO BY KORDELL BALLARD